In Mexico, it is customary to give recognition and pay homage to individuals and groups that contribute to our society’s quality of life. In fact, the government actually designates a special day of the year to celebrate the myriad of professional and private groups that impact our wellbeing.
In addition to the ones we are familiar with such as Mothers Day and Fathers Day – in Mexico – there is a Day of the Doctors, Teachers’ Day, Day of the Mailmen, Day of the Engineers and so on.
On Tuesday December 20th, I attended the annual Yucatecan Writers’ Day breakfast, held at the Siglo XXI Convention Center.
In fact, this is the fifth year that English language writers have been invited to the event, and we all feel honored to be included.
The Director of SEDACULTA, Roger Metri Duarte, gave a short welcome speech, then he and a panel of well-known writers gave out the SEDECULTA awards for Literature in four genres: Playwriting, Short Fiction, Poetry in the Maya language, and Poetry in the Spanish language. One of the recipients, Fernando Leal Galaviz read a short essay: Why Writers Write.
I enjoyed his analysis because after extolling all of the lofty ideals that writers purport to, he concluded with, “We write because we have something we want to say, and we hope our readers will value and identify with that.”
In the 1940s, Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith, an influential and widely-read columnist was asked if turning out a daily column was a lot of work. “Why no,” said Red, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” To add insult to injury, Ernest Hemmingway is often given credit for that witty quip.
Lately several people have asked me: Don’t you like writing anymore? You hardly ever blog, and you haven’t written a book for a while. You don’t even post much on facebook.
These comments and yesterday’s Dia del Escritor Yucateco breakfast have brought on some reflections.
The truth is that I love writing. I began with an avalanche of letters when I moved to Mexico in 1976 – it was the only way to stay in touch with my far-away family and friends. In 1980, someone showed one of my letters to an editor at The Mexico City News – and he hired me to be the Merida correspondent. I continued in that job until 1992. During the same 12 year period, I wrote travel pieces for magazines and guide books.
For the next two decades, most of my writing involved college course synopsizes, class plans, grant proposals, and the like. Then I published four books: Tomando Agua del Pozo in 2007; Magic Made in Mexico, 2010; a novel, The Woman Who Wanted the Moon in 2012; and a family memoir called CIRCLES in 2015. Since starting my blog, Writing From Merida, in 2009, I have made more than 1,000 entries. I’ve also contributed short stories to anthologies and magazines. Book tours, readings, conferences and workshops are other writing related activities I participate in and thoroughly enjoy.
But it takes a significant amount of time to research, compose and write even a short piece. I have a lot going on in my life, and unfortunately, time to do all I want to do is in short supply.
I spend lots of time with my husband, family, friends, and my granddaughter!
Spanish is Emma’s current challenge, but she is coming along well. She already speaks English and Norwegian. Imagine, not yet 4 years old, and she’s working on her third language. We draw and paint together. She points to the “E” in her storybooks and says, “That’s my letter.”One of the phrases she can say in Spanish is – Vamos a pintar – Let’s paint. Language development experts say you learn what you need to, and I am filled with happiness to know that she needs to express herself with a paintbrush – she’s a chip off the old block.
Besides Emma’s art projects, I have my own painting, and yes, I am writing a new book – more about that project when it is further along.
I travel and I feel grateful to have seen as much of the world as I have. I hope our life will continue just as it is – for many more happy years.
Although I feel Jorge and I have worked hard for what we have – keeping it may be a challenge. Our poor planet is suffering and this affects us all. I fear that the political path some nations have chosen will contribute to even more inequality and unfair distribution of wealth. We are on a slippery slope.
God willing, saner minds will prevail, and we’ll scramble back onto solid ground. Meanwhile I’ll keep writing – I hope you’ll keep reading.